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I'm having a hard time figuring out when to use fui or era. For example, you say Nòs fomos estudantes, but you can also say Eu era dancarina. They are both in the past, but not a specific point in time, yet one is using fui. It is a bit confusing. Any help would be great!

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  • A similar question and a good answer here
    – Centaurus
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 16:28

1 Answer 1

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The main difference is aspectual. "Fui" is conjugated in what we call pretérito perfeito, which usually means that it happened in the past and it ended shortly afterwards. "Era" is conjugated in what we call pretérito imperfeito, which means that it happened in the past but it was for a longer time. Since you are conjugating the verb ser, it doesn't make a difference which one you should use for semantic reasons that this verb has.

If you used another verb such as "dançar", we would have different results:

Eu dancei muito (I danced a lot) — pretérito perfeito

Eu dançava muito (I used to dance a lot) — pretérito imperfeito

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  • I can see a difference between "nós fomos estudantes" and "nós éramos estudantes". "Nós éramos estudantes naquela época" is ok, but "nós fomos estudantes naquela época" sounds awkward to my ears.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 16:33
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    Thank you so much for the clarification! This was my first post on here and a beginner in learning Portuguese!
    – verbena
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 16:40
  • fui is not conjugated. The verb ir is conjugated, and fui is the first person simple past of it (in Portuguese, the preterito perfeito).
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 19:08
  • @verbena, here in Stack Exchange if a question satisfies your question, click the check sign near the vote button Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 19:12
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    @verbena Please remember to upvote posts (questions or answers) you consider a relevant contribution to the site (just click on the up arrow next to the post). This helps other people find the best we have to offer, and recognizes the post author effort.
    – stafusa
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 21:56

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